- Buying a Condo?
- Condos' Financial Structure
- Owners' Money Facts
- Owners’ Meetings and Voting
- Boards of Directors
- Owners' Rights and Responsibilities
- Managers and Management Companies
- Common Problems of Condo Living
- Condo Act, Declaration, Rules, and By-Laws
- What Should Be Done to Improve Condo Governance and Help Owners?
- FAQs About Your Building & Your Unit
- Condo Auditors & Lawyers
- Condos & Insurance
- Tenants & Landlords
- Are Condos Family Friendly?
- Links and Bibliography
Owners’ Meetings and Voting
There are two types of meetings to which owners have a right: the regular annual general meeting (AGM) and requisitioned meetings. The latter are less common but could be even more important. In both instances, the issues of quorum, proxies, and of voting are key and we begin with these.
What is a Quorum?
A quorum is a specified minimum percentage of owners who have to be present, either in person or through a proxy, for a meeting to be valid. In Ontario, it is 25% of all units in a condo. If one person owns 30 units in a condo of 120 units, this person counts for 30 and can constitute the quorum by herself!
When too many owners leave a meeting before it is concluded and the quorum is lost, the meeting has to be stopped while an attempt is made to regain the quorum. If this fails, the meeting has to be adjourned. No vote can be taken and no business can be transacted.
What Are Proxies?
A proxy is a person who represents an owner. This person receives a proxy form. The usual language in condos refers to the proxy form as the proxy. This form--generally one page-- serves several functions.
First, proxies allow owners who cannot attend a meeting to be represented to help constitute a quorum (and that’s very important). Second, proxies allow owners to vote for the candidates of their choice or for a by-law without attending the meeting.
Owners have to fill out the proxy form, write the names of the persons who will be responsible for the proxy or will attend the meeting on their behalf, and write the names of the candidates whom they want to elect. (Click here for How to Fill Proxy Form)
At the bottom of the proxy form, owners have to sign and date. The proxy is then given to the person named on the form. If this person will attend the meeting, then he or she brings the proxy to the registration desk before the meeting. The manager or a board member will then register the proxy.
If owners want to vote, they have to write the candidate’s name or put their signature next to a proposed by-law. No one else can vote, not even the proxy person. This Ontario Condo Act requirement was put in place in order to eliminate abuses of power.
Unfortunately, in some condos, boards, managers, or groups of owners occasionally do fill out proxies in order to elect whom ever they want or to pass a by-law they want. This constitutes fraud.
While someone can help an owner fill out a proxy, only the owner can fill in candidates' names and sign the proxy form. No one can vote for someone else!
If an owner or a board member is collecting as many proxies as possible to ensure a quorum, these filled forms should be brought to the management office so that it is pre-registered. This saves time and prevents long lines forming during registration.
However, in situations where both boards and managers are in collusion against owners or a requisitioned meeting is taking place, owners with a lot of collected proxies should hold on to these until the meeting itself.
An owner who owns two suites can attend a meeting in person and bring a proxy form (all filled out) for his or her second suite. If she can’t attend the meeting, then she has two proxies to give to someone else or bring to the office. In Ontario, an owner has as many proxies as he or she has units. An equivalent situation exists in other provinces.
This is a problem in small condos when one person may own 6 of the 10 suites. In effect, such a person can elect anyone he wishes: He rules the condo. It is also a problem when one company or one person or one family owns many suites in a high-rise condo. Such a large number of proxies is sufficient to sway votes.
Proxies have to be retained for at least 90 days after the AGM or a requisitioned meeting in the event that someone contests their validity.
What Voting Percentages Are Needed?
In Ontario, voting percentages needed depend on what is voted.
The proportions of votes needed for various purposes vary and this can be confusing. Before owners call a requisitioned meeting, for instance, they have to understand how many votes they will need to accomplish their goals.
In order to clarify this issue of percentages, all the percentages needed to pass a motion, a by-law, or to elect directors in Ontario are indicated in a table below. As can be seen, obtaining an affirmative vote is easiest for AGMs and elections of directors because only a majority of the votes of owners present, in person or by proxy, is necessary once the 25% quorum of all suites is achieved.
In other words, it takes a quorum of 25% of all suites for an AGM to proceed and a simple majority vote among those present to elect directors.
However, removing directors or an entire board is much more difficult because this requires an affirmative vote by a majority of all suites, or over 50% of all units. This means that, in a condo with 100 units, 51 affirmative votes are necessary, either in person or by proxy, for the removal of a director. Obviously, it is difficult to obtain the cooperation of so many owners of units, especially in condos where a majority of owners live elsewhere.
|Quorum for the AGM to proceed||25% of all suites, in person or by proxy, must be present|
|For an affirmative vote at the AGM||A majority of the suites represented at the AGM|
|To elect directors at the AGM||The candidates with the most votes win|
|To elect the director for the owner- occupied position||The candidate with the most votes from owner-occupied units wins|
|To pass a by-law||An affirmative vote from a majority of all units|
|To amend the declaration to change the proportion of fees paid by units||Written consent from 90% of all units|
|To amend the declaration||Written consent from 80% of all units|
|To call a requisitioned meeting||15% of all units must sign a petition|
|To permit the board a large expenditure that is over 10% of the budget (either at the AGM or at a requisitioned meeting)||An affirmative vote from 66% of all units|
|To vote for the removal of a director at a requisitioned meeting||An affirmative vote from more than 50% of all units|
|To vote for the removal of the director who holds the owner-occupied position||An affirmative vote from more than 50% of all owner-occupied units|